Stuff I Used On My P166 circa 1999
People are often surprized when they see my task tray (capture above.) I find
most of these indispensible, so I thought I'd share them with you.
- 1 - Norton AntiVirus
- My roomie gave me a Word macro virus, so I decided to go ahead and get a full virus
scanner. I'm thinking of disabling this real-time component. But GetRight
automagically scans every download. That helps my peace of mind.
- 2 - Sound Blaster Mixer
- When I bought this machine I was still playing a lot of DOS games. I've seen one
testimonial that has me leaning to the Turtle Beach Montego for my next machine.
- 3 - System Agent
- Part of the Microsoft Plus! pack. It really should have been a gimme with the OS.
Irritating. Anyway, for me the most important feature is I use it to set
alarms to myself and simply pop up a TXT file. If necessary I'll edit the TXT to
tell me what the alarm is for. Since I have such a simple life I don't need a
full-featured PIM. Just a reminder once in a while.
- 4 - Matrox control panel
- I've had very good luck with the Matrox Millenium. Rock-solid drivers. I've
considered the new MGA-G200 for my next machine. But it sounds like the Voodoo2 is
still better for Quake-type games. But I probably will get another Millenium for my
- 5 - SciTech Display Doctor
- This is one that isn't essential. I needed it to run one of the Quake-type engines
I downloaded to test. One use for this program would be if you have a display
adapter with flakey drivers. SDD could act as a replacement. Basically, it
works and doesn't get in the way, so I haven't bothered to get rid of it. For
programmers, one reason to follow that link would be to download the MGL graphics library.
It looks like a pretty good cross-platform library, with source, for free. At
the very least, it's a good starting point.
- 6 - Desktop
- One of the Win 95 PowerToys. For the most often used items, obviously the Start
Menu is the best place. But that gets crowded quickly. So the desktop is a
good place to put several more not-quite-as-often-used items. The big problem is
having to minimize or move windows to get at the desktop. This little toy displays
the desktop icons in a list for quick access. One potential problem with this
program actually is an advantage. It displays the icons in unsorted order, however they
appear on disk. To put them in a useful order, move them to a temporary directory.
In a DOS box in that temp directory, dir /b > xxx.bat. Edit the bat file
and sort them into whatever order you wish. Add a move command to each to send them
back to the WINDOWS\DESKTOP directory. Now, the order in the list is what you want.
Of course, there are several other toys in that pack that are useful.
- 7 - Pilot HotSync
- I like my little geek box. See my Palm Pilot Utilities
- 8 - Dunce
- A little utility to automagically fire up a list of programs when you initiate a DUN
connection. I went ahead and upgraded to Dunce Gold, which lets you define different
programs for different DUN connections. I used that to define one DUN connection for
Quaking that is minimal, and another to fire up a slew of other programs when I'm just
- 9 - Norton Safe on the Web
- Came with Norton AntiVirus. This doesn't appear near as useful as the hype made it
seem. It's going to go one of these days.
- 10 - EzDesk
- Mickeysoft sucks. Every once in awhile it'll forget how you have the icons
arranged on your desktop. This little utility fixes that. It saves off the
position of each icon and puts them back when you reboot (or when you ask, if it happens
during a session.) And it'll remember a different layout for each resolution.
- 11 - GetRight
- A download manager that works seamlessly with web browsers. Most important, it'll
resume a download that gets interrupted on servers that support that, which is most these
days. Also, it'll automagically queue up downloads if you've started a bunch.
I have mine set to download three files at once and queue the rest up. That way, you
get the first few more quickly. And you can easily stop and resume any download.
And you can tell it to check multiple sources and it'll download from the least
busy. Overall, a very slick implementation of a simple procedure.
- 12 - RealPlayer
- If you're on the net, you need this.
- 13 - Modem
- Nothing special, here.
- 14 - AOL Instant Messenger
- Comes bundled with Netscape. I know a few people on AOL, so this is useful for
knowing when they're online and chatting with them.
- 15 - Popit
- Check multiple POP3 mailboxes. Includes an anti-spam feature. Give it a list
of spammer domains or full addresses and it'll optionally delete messages, with or without
sending a complaint letter to the originating ISP. The mailboxes you see above are
mine, Bruce's and Wench's.
- 16 - NetMedic
- Monitors your ISP, the net and the server and reports problems. Helps diagnose
slow connections, a little bit. Mostly just interesting information.
- 17 - ICQ
- A full-featured utility for spotting when your friends are online and sending messages
or chatting with them.
- 18 - Clock
- Nothing special. In addition to this digital clock I'm using the round clock from
the Powertoys. Sometimes analog is better and other times digital, so it's nice to
- A programmer's editor. These guys think like I do. It has a C-like macro
language, but I've only ever written about 5 lines of code in it. Almost every time
I've wanted a feature, it was already available as an option. I use it for 90% of my
editing. It automagically writes to disk when you switch to another task, so it
works fairly well with MS DevStudio.
- I tried Forte, but found it clumsy. Gravity fits with the way I like to peruse
newsgroups. Not that I have much time to read newsgroups. And they're just not
as focused and useful as Compuserve's moderated forums.
- If you've used MetaCrawler you know about
multi-engine search pages. But seeing 20 or so hits per page and having to wait
between pages is a pain. WebFerret runs on your local machine and hits some 25
search engines and displays the hits in a standard listbox. This makes it much
quicker to skim up and down the list of hits.
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Last modified: September 24, 2006